How to Reupholster a Bench


We all need extra seating from time to time. Family gatherings, holidays, parties…

But how do you add stylish seating to an already crowded or small space?

The single most functional piece of furniture you can add to any room is a bench. It can be extra seating, an ottoman, or put a tray on it and it’s a table.


The Design

One of my clients had a bench that was old and in dire need of a makeover. She had stripped off the old fabric and foam to discover a mdf box with legs attached and didn’t know where to go from there.

You could start with an existing bench if you have one or can hunt one down on Craig’s List or in thrift stores. Alternatively, in an upcoming video I’ll demonstrate how to transform a coffee table. But you could also build a simple structure made of just a piece of wood with legs attached you don’t even need the box.

But the box was what I had so I started there. I also was given some 30 year old velvet that matched my client’s grandmother’s furniture. Vintage fabric is beautiful but it can be delicate and rip more easily so handle it with care!


The Materials

  • 1 bench ready to be upholstered
  • 1 1/2 yards of fabric is what I needed (Measure the length of your bench add the height of both ends and add 12″ to accommodate the cushion and the edges for finishing
  • A heavy duty staple gun and staples, I like 3/4″ long staples because they grip into the wood but are not so long you have to nail them in to finish correctly
  • 2″-3″ thick foam to cover the top of the bench – watch for those 50% coupons this can be a budget buster
  • Dacron to wrap over the foam before you add the fabric, it gives the whole piece a softer more polished look, I purchased a quilt liner and doubled it up because it was the most cost effective package
  • A few decorative nails, or enough to go around the whole base if you are meticulous
  • A rubber mallet or hammer
  • Scissors


The Process

Watch the video first, these instructions are meant to help you remember the order or answer any additional question

  • First, clean your bench or whatever piece you are re-purposing. Touch up the finish or the paint on the legs at this point, in the video I do it at the end but if you do it now you can be sure you keep your fabric pristine
  • If the legs can be separated from the base I recommend doing that so you don’t have to work around them, mine were old with stripped screws so I left them in place
  • Cut foam to the exact size of the top. Too short and it won’t look right, too long and the ends will bulge.
  • Use spray adhesive to attach the foam to the wood base
  • Lay the dacron over the top and smooth out every wrinkle, any unevenness will always show through the fabric
  • I flip my bench over and pull the dacron onto the underside to staple (watch the video for helpful tips)
  • Cut away any excess dacron
  • Lay the fabric on a clean flat surface, face down. Remove ANY wrinkles
  • Center the bench upside down on the fabric
  • Pull the center sides up and staple them first, checking underneath to make sure the fabric is pulled taught but not so tight it is pulling the foam out of shape – that’s how you get a lumpy bench
  • Work your way from the center to the corners stapling often
  • When you get to the corners fold them like you are wrapping a package (watch the video!) and cut away the extra fabric to avoid bulky corners
  • I then finished the corners with some decorative nail heads for visual appeal but also to give the corners some reinforcement


Watch the video if you are confused about any part of this process, or comment and I will respond! I am a full time interior designer and mom of 5 so I really try to watch the comments but feel free to bug me if I don’t get right back to you!

The Outcome

My client loved her bench! It was a touch of her grandmother in her house and provided extra seating over the holidays.


The Budget 

$0 – Bench was given to me but you can find one for less than $15 in thrift stores

$0 – Fabric was also provided by my client but you can find great upholstery fabrics for $10 a yard – check

$17.49 – Foam, it was $34.99 but 50% off

$9.99 – Dacron, it was $19.99 but 50% off

$4.99 – Decorative nail heads

$0 – I had all the tools

MY TOTAL: $32.47

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  1. Good night greetings from Barbados I enjoyed your tutorial but the audio was very poor even though I raised my volume I still had a hard time keeping up with you